Santa Fe, New Mexico launches #HowToSantaFe to overwhelming success

I literally haven’t written a story about someone using social media right in weeks, so its long overdue! Here’s a really good one: Check out this fantastic story from AllFacebook, which discusses how the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico launched a Twitter hashtag to overwhelming success.

The marketing campaign, #HowToSantaFe, encouraged users to upload photographs about the city to Instagram, using the above hashtag. It included a public awareness campaign, in-kind donations from businesses and seminars that taught people how to best use Instagram. The city, aware of its own limitations, partnered with an outside firm in order to properly execute the campaign.

It was apparently an overwhelming success:

  • 4.9 million people reached.
  • 52.3 million impressions.
  • $261,000 value in marketing return on investment for the city of Santa Fe.
  • $55,000 in-kind donations from local businesses.
  • $50,000 new paid work opportunities over one year.
  • 10,719 posts to #HowToSantaFe on Instagram alone.
  • 10 local businesses have launched Instagram campaigns.

A very quick review of the hashtag on Twitter reviews some fantastic entries:

If you want to launch a similar campaign, some thoughts:

  • Prearrange the first entries. As we’ve reviewed before, a hashtag campaign can backfire, very easily and very catastrophically.  Negative images and spam are guaranteed with campaigns like this, so make sure you have some positive images set to go in order to start the campaign rolling right.
  • Get the help of an expert. A campaign like this is complicated and requires professional guidance to do it right.  More often than not, this is beyond the capacities of a governmental agency, so it pays to bring in someone who knows what they are doing.
  • Advertise appropriately.  Something this big can only work if you get many partners, have deep community outreach and a set marketing plan in order to make it work.
  • Augment with real dollars.  I’m not sure if this campaign spent any real money in order to advertise the hashtag or its results, but I do know that backing such an effort with real money would have been a positive. Like it or not, more and more social networks are requiring dollars in order to make a real impact.

This campaign should be lauded as a best practice for governments using social media.  However, I have one qualm with it, as the ROI metrics tracked are missing something key: How much money and how many tourists the campaign actually drove to the city.  One of the biggest problems I have seen with some social media campaigns is that they track ROI within the social media vacuum and fail to connect social media statistics to the real world, somehow automatically assuming that the social media hits will translate to real world success. It reminds me of that classic South Park episode involving the underpants gnomes:

Underpants profit

Phase 2 aboe is the missing ROI component here: How did #HowToSantaFe turn into real money?

What do you think? Any other thoughts to add about how this could have worked better? Let us know in the comments!

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